Attributed to Master VBL
Zurich, circa 1620
One ornamental glass panel with small crack
Guido Pron, Turin (label: “G. Pro[n] Antichità V. Giolitti 19 Torino”);
Private collection, Monte Carlo.
London, Colnaghi, Art of the Curious, 2-25 October 2013
Art of the Curious. Exhibition catalogue, Colnaghi, London/Munich 2013, fig. 36, n° 36.
The reverse glass painting in its architectural ebony frame decorated with grotesques birds reverse-painted glass inlays depicts an allegory of Rome as the Tutelary Goddess of the City.
The allegorical figure of Rome appears as a woman clad in antique armor with a lance and identified by such traditional attributes as the genius of Victory in her hand, a she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus and a standard with the Latin abbreviation SPQR for “Senatus Populusque Romanus” (Senate and people of Rome). The figure could be compared to an etching by Palma il Giovane (1548-1628) showing The Tutelary Goddess of the City of Rome, from the book by Giacomo Franco "De Excellentia et nobilitate delineationis libri duo" published in Venice in 1611.
The ornaments on the frame may have been inspired from models of grotesques by Heinrich Renbage, Esaias van Hulsen or even Claes Jansz. Visscher.
The attribution to Master VBL is based on comparisons with signed reverse glass paintings known from the artist, such as the Flight into Egypt in the Palazzo Madama in Turin or the landscape of ruins in the Musée Suisse du Vitrail in Romont. The latter has a reverse glass inlay frame similar to our Allegory of Rome showing fantastical grotesques.
Although several signed works from Master VBL have survived, little is known about the artist himself. Two signed German glass panels, which he produced for a patrician in Freiburg in 1625, suggest that the artist worked in Switzerland in the first half of the 17th century, probably in Zurich, where the art of reverse glass painting, in emulation of the work of Hans Georg Sprüngli, enjoyed great popularity. Interestingly, however, is the fact that the majority of the signed works by Master VBL are to be found in Italy. He probably worked closely with Naples where he sent many of his work to adorn cabinets. For example, two Neapolitan cabinets with reverse glass inlays from Master VBL are in Musée Suisse du Vitrail, Romont.
3 800 €
35 000 €